Trends in Displays
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Feature: Camera Displays are becoming ever more important in cameras
These developments are derived from some of the work done on large TV screen TFT-based displays and as technology improves on TV screens its gets passed down to cameras. The nets result is that cameras now have better than ever WYSIWYG views of what is being recorded.
The idea behind pico-projectors is to be able to display a TV sized image - 12 to 20 inch diagonal on any blank, flat surface. The Economist has an article on the rapid development of some of the basic technologies used in pico-projectors. The technologies are not new but have matured over the past 6-8 years. The two competing methods use either a reflective surface (so called reflective liquid-crystal-on-silicon (LCoS)) or mirrors powered by tiny LEDs.
Already handheld projectors have reached the market. And the race is on to deliver tiny projectors that could be added to a mobile phone or camera (video or SLR), so that record images could be projected onto a surface. The range of possibilities continues to expand with the increased image quality and falling display size and costs.
One of the developments that has come out of pico-projectors and science is the use of holography to project the image - holography is dependent on a laser beam passing through a refractive medium storing an image. The advantage is that the image appears as a 3d object; however the disadvantage is that the image itself can be fuzzy, duotoned (1 color plus black and white), and computationally intensive - i.e. a holographic display soaks up a lot of any extra computing power available on a camera's chips. Nonetheless, holographic images have a highly desirable characteristic - as the observer changes position the other side of the object comes into view.
Current pico-projection system use variations on holographic methods. These results are being investigated in the whole arena of "spatial imaging". Its not yet "Star Wars" Jedi capable, but is improving. MIT has a laboratory devoted to work in this field. Go there to see how close 3D holography is to coming to a camera near and dear to you. Its both farther and closer than you think.
Already display technology has brought LiveViewers to top of the line SLR and video cameras and has changed how the cameras are laid out and operated. Expect stylus and/or iPhone like gestures to come to these screens. But pico-projectors may have a big impact too - allowing slideshows or video to be projected on a wall and viewed by a small group of 2-8 people. Finally, holographic methods may also come to the camera to display images in novel ways. In sum, just like chips, storage, and batteries - image display is changing the technology of cameras .
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